Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Movies 5: Hellboy II: The Golden Army

The Dark Fate of Humanity if We Keep Abusing the Earth (According to Hollywood)

1. Plants will intelligently design themselves to kill us. (The Happening)
2. We will be forced to live on a spaceship, where we will regress into overgrown, consumption-driven toddlers. (Wall-E)
3. Elves will declare war on our asses. (Hellboy II: The Golden Army)

Anyone else sensing a pattern this summer?

I mean, come on, Hollywood, I’ve finally gotten into the habit of turning off lights and a/c in rooms I’m not occupying, I stopped buying physical CDs, 90% of the time I remember to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store…okay, I still take hella long showers, eschew Nalgene water bottles because of the possible cancer threat, and I can be lackadaisical in my recycling, but I’m making an effort, okay? So how about letting me enjoy a Hollywood blockbuster without trying to make me feel like a bad person?

That said, I really enjoyed Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Having seen the first movie roughly five hours before I went to see the second (thanks to the wonder of Tivo for letting me catch up on all the movies I missed while in college!), it was pretty easy to see the evolution between the two. In the first movie, the Rupert Evans character of John Myers felt superfluous, despite being given the oddly cheesy Final Voiceover of the movie. The character was apparently created for the film, and it felt fairly obvious his only function was to be a cipher through which the world of Hellboy was explained to the audience, so it’s not surprising he was tossed aside with a one-liner (transferred to Alaska) in the sequel. Also, I may be wrong, but I think they moved the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense from Newark in the first movie to Trenton in the second. (As a Jersey girl, I thought it was hilarious and fitting for that kind of place to be in Newark – it sure would explain a lot.) If they did, I’m surprised the notoriously nitpicky about continuity fans of comic book movies haven’t already begun to riot.

The pacing was a lot better in the second movie, without all that pesky exposition to get out of the way. Of course, there is some exposition – we need to know why an elf is mad at us (answer: humans broke an ancient truce to leave the woods to the elves) and what he’s gonna do about it (gather the scattered pieces of an ancient crown to raise an undefeatable golden army). Several of the final “twists” are pretty much telegraphed well in advance if you’ve ever seen a movie ever. It reminds me of the part in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang where Harry says, “Okay, I apologize. That was a terrible scene. It’s like, 'Why was that in the movie? Gee, do you think maybe it’ll come back later? Maybe?' I hate that, when the TV’s on talking about the new power plant; hmmm, wonder where the climax will happen? Or that shot of the cook in The Hunt for Red October…so anyway….”

Still, the movie moves along at a brisk pace. Maybe too brisk in the middle, when two large fight scenes are stacked right on top of each other with no respite to exposition, banter, and otherwise let the audience catch their breath, but that’s a small quibble. There’s solid humor, good action, and even some character development, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Interestingly, Hellboy at times felt like an inverse of that other big summer movie, Wanted. (Despite using some awesome slo-mo effects and gorgeous, lush visuals.) While the characters in Wanted believe in killing one to save thousands, some of the Hellboy characters risk the world to save one. Not very pragmatic, but then, pragmatism makes for short movies. “Hey, John, wanna go on this really dangerous quest to find an ancient relic?” “Nah. Sounds kind of dangerous.” “Good point. Pass the Funyuns.”

I walked out of the movie happy I’d gone to see it, feeling quite good. Then, driving home, Bambi shot in front of my car and I had to slam onto the brakes hard as shit to avoid making venison and, you know, dying. In that brief moment between thinking death was imminent and realizing Bambi and I were both unscathed, I had a single thought: “I can’t believe the last movie I’ll see is Hellboy.” Later on, having avoided two more prancing deer (I swear to god, been driving ten years and never saw one single deer on the road, and then I see three on three separate roads in one night?) and arrived safely home, I thought about which recent movie I would have preferred to be my last. I realized, if we’re talking summer movies, it would probably be Wanted, edging out the feel-good Wall-E, as what I’d want to go down as having last seen. If all 2008 movies are contenders, then it’s Cloverfield, no question. (Iron Man runs a close second.) So there you have it. Hellboy II: The Golden Army – solidly entertaining, lots of humor and heart, but not necessarily the last movie you want to see before you die.

1 comment:

patrick said...

Hellboy 2 was fun... for sure that director has an amazing imagination, reminded me a lot of his work in Pan's Labyrinth